Pittsburgh Pirates Update Part 2

Okay, continuing where I left off yesterday. Today, I’m going to look at some of the best starting pitchers, relief pitchers, and closers that we have this season.

Starting Pitchers

1. Francisco Liriano

Franky is one of the best pitchers that we have. Sometimes he can be really on his game and other times he can be a little off and start to throw crazy pitches. He’s not really the type of guy who always shuts you down but he’s still crazy talented nonetheless. He’s had a lot of success here with the Pirates and I definitely expect that to continue. Hopefully, he gets even more controlled and on the ball but either way, he’s still a quality member to the team.

2. Gerrit Cole

This young pitcher was recognized by everyone when the high school prospect did well during his major league debut. The pitcher has continued to turn up the heat and to impress. The big issue with Cole is that he seems to get rattled easier than some of the other more seasoned pitchers. He’s still a young kid with a lot of growing room left. He hasn’t been sent down since he came up to the majors and I highly doubt he will again. He gets outs when he needs to and he’s kind of the same as Liriano in the respect that when he’s on, batters need to be worried. But he’s off, wild pitches can really hurt the Pirates.

3. Jeff Locke

Another starter who’s still fairly young. Locke was an all-star not long ago and after that, he kind of lost his control for awhile. But I think he’s definitely gotten it back to an extent and he’s shown more control than in the past. Like the previous pitchers mentioned, he just needs to stay composed and not let his pitch get out of control. He gives up a lot of walks which seems to be the case for the majority of the starting pitchers. He’s an all-star for a reason, this lefty is one to watch for sure.

4. A.J. Burnett

A.J. was one of the best and most reliable pitchers for this ball club before he left for Philadelphia. Burnett took Edinson Volquez’s spot in the rotation. Volquez was arguably the most consistent pitcher we had last season and he will be missed. But still, it’s nice to have A.J. back since he knows what he’s doing and we have a lot of trust in him as a pitcher. He didn’t have the best season with the Phillies but he didn’t have the worst either. We can only hope that 2013 A.J. will be back and he can finish his career on a high note here in Pittsburgh.

5. Vance Worley

This young pitcher is filling in for Charlie Morton- another one of our best, who’s currently on the DL. Charlie needs to get back to Pittsburgh but Vance isn’t the worst pitcher either. He’s no Charlie (Charlie on a good day I mean) but he still has potential and it’s nice that the ball club is giving him a chance to prove himself as the starting guy for now anyway. Hopefully he can impress us a little bit more and secure a couple of wins along the way.

Relief pitchers

Tony Watson

Sometimes it can be hard to understand why Tony Watson is in the games at certain times. For instance, if he gives up a homerun and still remains in the game, or something similar to that. Truthfully, I can remember more negative moments of Watson’s than the positive but he still is a trusted relief pitcher who typically can get us through the game and to the closers.

I don’t know many of the other relief pitchers since Justin Wilson is no longer with the Pirates and we have some new players. So I’m just going to stick to talking about only Tony and move on to the big closer spot.

Mark Melancon

It can be hard to want him in the game sometimes because he can make some costly errors to say the least. But Melancon is also pretty close to the closer that Jason Grilli was. It may not always be pretty, but he typically manages to get the outs needed and at the end of day that’s all that really matters. He has the same amount of saves as Grilli and that’s pretty impressive since there was a lot of hype behind Grilli during his time as a closer in Pittsburgh. So when he’s doing good, it’s easy to cheer for Melancon.

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Pregame Playlist

This is my pregame playlist that I made. This playlist has many songs from genres like pop, rock, R&B, punk, rap, and a few more that are thrown in there. I’m sure everyone has a different playlist to pump them up from playing a game, sport, giving a speech, and whatever else you might be getting ready to do. So without further ado, here’s my playlist for you guys!

Best Walk-Up Songs

There’s a certain kind of excitement that comes from a baseball player stepping up to bat with a really cool song playing in the background. Not very much of it is going to play so it has to be a familiar riff that people know and gives a sort of hint at how awesome it is. It’s also a song that pumps people up and gets them ready for your at bat. There are several songs in particular that stand out to me as being the best walk-up songs. Some of these I have heard quite a few times while at the baseball field during both high school and MLB games. Some of them I think should be played at games at all different levels.

1. Back In Black by ACDC

I remember hearing this song at a high school baseball song and I thought the kid at bat was the coolest person ever. He may have not even picked the song but it was that edginess and just how awesome the riff of the song is that left a mark on me. It’s definitely the perfect walk-up song due to the fact that it leaves a lasting impression on you.

2. Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana

Another awesome rock anthem that most people should know. I think this is the ideal one by Nirvana even though there are so many songs by them that would leave a positive mark on the listeners. This is the type of song that makes you pay attention to what’s going on in the game.

3. POWER by Kanye West

I’m sure you know which part of the song I’m referring to. It’s the instrumental part that you hear before Kanye comes in with the lyrics. That alone is just a sick beat that is familiar yet still has that unique quality to it that makes it an enjoyable walk-up song.

4. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

Obviously not an upbeat rock or rap anthem, it’s a pop ballad. But it’s also a song that everyone knows. Everyone is going to start singing alone to the song if it’s your at bat song and they won’t even notice if you screw up! Of course, they may not notice if you do really well, but then again, if you choose this song as your at bat song, people may want to watch you for that reason alone.

5. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

It’s an essential anthem that’s familiar in many different sports, especially football but who said it couldn’t be in baseball too? It’s got one of the sickest riff ever.

6. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones

If this song is your at bat, you’ll definitely find yourself satisfied. It’s got one of the best guitar riffs from Keith Richards and that’s for sure the part that should be included in any walk-up song since it’s the part everyone knows and loves.

7. Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen

This song directly references to baseball. It’s also just a downright great song about a guy who looked back on high school as being the best times of his life.

8. Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys

Okay, a lot of the ballpark may not know this song. It’s only a few years old via the British rock band Arctic Monkeys. They have been around for nearly a decade but haven’t reached the same popularity in America that they’ve reached back home. However, this guitar part of the song is one of the catchiest I’ve heard that’s actually pretty current. It sends a message and it’s not too much, it’s just enough.

9. Enter Sandman by Metallica

Another song that’s big in football, this one is also a great walk-up song. Many people are at least familiar with some of the song so it’s a great way to get the crowd interested in your at bat.

10. White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane

I was going to go with their song “Somebody To Love” but I figured “White Rabbit” was a wee bit trippier and also more memorable. It’s just a cool song to listen to no matter where you are or what you’re doing and it’s awesome coming from a ballpark too. It’s also the most out there on the list which is why it’s a walk-up song you’d want to have.

 

Best Sports Articles

There’s something special about sports articles. To be a good one, the reporter has to be involved in the lives of the athletes. These authors in the following magazine articles went above and beyond that expectation and wrote some of the best articles of all time.

1. Crime and Punishment by Gary Smith

By far my favorite piece of sports writing of all time. Richie Parker was a high school basketball player who found his dreams of being a college basketball player shattered when one moment beneath the school stairwells changed everything. The interesting thing about this story is how everything affects everything. It didn’t just change Richie’s life, it changed the lives of journalists, principals, coaches, and other authority figures. It’s written in such a flawless way and you get wrapped up in the lives of every character.

2. Life goes on for Lance Armstrong by Rick Reilly

This story is heartbreaking and personal. Reilly went above and beyond the call of duty by following Lance Armstrong around and also defending him against steroid allegations for years. The story uncovers a lot of information and you can’t help but sympathize with Rick Reilly.

3. The Final Walk-Off by J.R. Moehringer

Derek Jeter is one of the best baseball players my generation has seen. I love how in-depth and thoughtful this story really is. It’s a terribly long article but it’s worth the read. I’ve never been a big fan of Jeter as a person but this story was able to shed a light on how awesome the baseball player actually is.

4. In The Nick of Time by Rick Bragg

Despite the totally awful pun, the title and the article gives us serious insight on how much the state of Alabama needed Nick Saban. It’s crazy to me how obsessed these fans are. But football is really the big thing that gets people together in the state. Saban was able to satisfy the people of Alabama by his arrival. It’s a fascinating story filled with many quotations and personal stories.

5. The Left Arm of God by Tom Verducci

I love the story of the legendary pitcher Sandy Koufax. So naturally, this story really appealed to me. In my humble opinion, the introduction to this story is by far one of the best I’ve ever read. It paints such a vivid picture for you of a man who’s no longer a star, he’s just like an ordinary guy who doesn’t get much attention.

6. Heroes For Sale by Brin-Jonathan Butler

This is a lovely profile of a former Cuban boxer who proved that money isn’t the most important thing in life. This Cuban boxer, Teófilo Stevenson, once said, “What is a million dollars compared to the love of eight million people?” Stevenson was one of the few boxers who was able to stand a chance against Ali. The profile does a great job at connecting the boxer with the number one most famous Cuban athlete Yasiel Puig and both of them with Cuba in general.

7. Federer As Religious Experience by David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace is one of the best authors I’ve ever read. He doesn’t just scratch the surface of what he writes about, he digs in as deep as he can possibly get. He’s known more for his essay on lobster and his classically long book, “Infinite Jest.” Beyond that, he was also an amazing sportswriter. More specifically, he was a beautiful writer about tennis. He was a serious tennis player growing up and it’s clear he knows a lot about this sport that he loves. This essay provides us with a perspective about Federer that we’ve never looked at before.

8. Higher Education by Gary Smith

Gary Smith tells the story of a black basketball coach teaching in Ohio’s Amish country. This story goes beyond basketball and creates empathy within the readers. It also is the rare type of story that causes us to actually put ourselves in the characters shoes. Just read how perfect this sentence right here is, “They knew in their bones how small his wrath was, held up against his love.” It’s simple yet beautiful and compelling.

9. Special Team by Rick Reilly

No story could be more heartwarming as this one. Rick Reilly tells a story about Chy Johnson, a girl from the small town of Queen Creek Arizona who was being bullied at school. This quote explains it all, “Chy’s brain works at only a third-grade level because of a genetic birth defect, but she knew enough to feel hate.” Her mom noticed how sad her daughter seemed to be so she contacted the starting quarterback on the school’s football team, he and the other football players began a beautiful friendship that is extremely touching.

10. Mutant by Luke Dittrich

Usain Bolt is the fastest man on the planet. This profile of him is the best I’ve read. It goes deeper into what motivates this athlete and it gets personal – maybe too personal but it’s still insanely detailed. This is a must read for all of you that have heard his name but don’t know his story.

 

 

Rookie Playlists Over Everything

It’s safe to say that I’m running short on inspiration. I can’t think of much to think about which is really frustrating because I want to post everyday, but I also don’t want to post anything that I don’t really care about. So this is where I’m currently at. I’ve decided that the best solution to this problem is to shout out one thing in particular that has managed to inspire me.

As most of you should know by now, I’m a big fan of Rookie Mag. I’ve been introduced to so many new bands and artists because of them. It’s also safe to say that every Friday, the online magazine releases a playlist that is always worth the listen. They manage to mix a variety of different genres as they capture a playlist that centers around a particular theme. It’s truly inspiring to me and I just want to bring it to everyone’s attention in case you haven’t heard of it!

While I’m at it, I might as well do my best to point you towards some of the best playlists on the website. This most recent playlist is all garage rock songs that are all about appreciating who you are. Everyone needs to hear a playlist like this. It’s already become my go to.

This playlist holds nothing back and brings on the feels with artists like Fiona Apple, FKA Twigs, Kate Bush, and Nicki Minaj. Need I say more?

As the description says, “Listen to this mix when you’re looking for a place to go and nowhere seems to fit.”

Rookie’s Hanging With playlists are always the best but the one about Rayanne Graff and Angela Chase remains as my favorite.

I think I’ve included enough playlists to get you on the ground with what Rookie is all about! While you’re listening to the mixes, you might as well look around the website as well. You may find yourself getting sucked in to this world and beautiful music just like I did.

Best Podcasts

Podcasts are pretty much the big thing right now. Here are some of the ones that are really worth listening to. There’s thousands of podcasts but these are the ones in particular that are important and awesome. Check them out!

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Fresh Air is the first podcast that I ever really listened to. I remember being in the sixth grade listening to Terry Gross interview Dave Grohl about the new Foo Fighters album. That was also my introduction to Nirvana. Grohl told stories about his experiences as a drummer for the band and stories about the late Kurt Cobain. It was cool to listen to and has stuck with me for a long time now. I continue listening to this podcast because the guests are always so popular and the interviews always feel really genuine and they aren’t ever boring.

invisibillia

Invibilia is a podcast from NPR that’s actually pretty recent. They’ve completed their first season and it wasn’t nearly as long as I hoped it would be. However, every episode taught me about things I never have previously thought about. Every story told on this podcast is just as interesting as the last. Prepare to be enchanted with all the information this podcast provides listeners with.

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This is easily my favorite music podcast. I love All Songs Considered but I feel like this choice is under the radar and should be recognized. Each episode revolves around some kind of aspect to music. They only talk about topics they feel that no one else is. They uncover things about songs that were written in a dream to political songs to backing tracks. The episodes are fairly short so it’s easy to listen to a bunch of them at once in order to catch up.

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I couldn’t leave Serial off a post about the best podcasts. Serial is obviously the most downloaded podcast of all time for a reason. The first season of this storytelling podcast is about the true story of Adnan Syed who was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend in 2000. He was sentenced to life in prison but a family friend of his contacted Sarah Koenig about looking further into the case. Koenig discovered that there’s a lot of flaws in the case to convict Syed but if he didn’t do it then who did? The way the podcast is structured is one of it’s serious strengths. Each episode focuses on a different aspect in the case and it’s impossible to keep one opinion throughout the whole season. One episode you’ll be sure of Syed’s innocence then the next episode will make you sure that he’s guilty. If you love a good story, listen to Serial. You won’t regret it.

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Criminal is a podcast kind of similar to Serial. However, the episodes are a lot shorter and it focuses on a different criminal case each episode. The stories are all incredible and compelling. The only problem is that there’s not more episodes available. You’re bound to get hooked on the episodes that are currently released.

selected shorts

Selected Shorts is a pretty great podcast. Each episode centers around one central theme. Then famous performers, actors, and actresses read these stories in front of a live audience. The short stories are always beautiful and some of them will be familiar to you but not all of them will be. The cool thing about selected shorts is getting to hear these stories come to life by such brilliant and hilarious performers.

mothlogo

I’m on a role with storytelling podcasts so why stop now? The thing different about this one from the other storytelling podcasts is that it’s true personal stories. These performers- some famous and some not, tell stories from their personal lives. It’s equally heartbreaking and heartwarming. One of my personal favorite episodes is the story actor Ethan Hawke tells. He talks about his mom’s ex husband Michael and how he was a secret influence in his life. It falls into the category of both heartbreaking and heartwarming because Hawke desperately craved for the attention of Michael and he was a straight up jerk. It makes a hilarious story though. Every episode of The Moth is different but the personal quality of it is always there.

mailtime

My brother made me check out this podcast and I don’t regret it. It’s more than just mildly offensive. The podcast is a lot about sex but it talks a lot about what’s going on in the world. KFC is always up to date and it’s always absolutely hilarious. They also had a bunch of episodes dedicated to Serial because KFC was so obsessed with it. The opinions they had about Serial was laugh out loud funny and I recommend that be your introduction to the podcast.